July 31, 2014

CollectionHQ Promotes Library Trend Tool

circPoint logoBaker & Taylor’s collectionHQ division has begun promoting circPoint, a new web-based tool that enables publishers to mine circulation data from 250 library systems in the United States.

Powered by aggregated data from collectionHQ, a collection-analysis technology that helps libraries manage their circulation data, circPoint allows users to filter and search by author, title, subjects, ISBNs, publishers, and regions to analyze library readership trends. For example, according to the company, publishers could see how western authors are performing in southeastern states, or search to see how specific BISAC subject headings are performing best to aid strategic planning. Information can then be displayed as detailed, interactive data grids or as simple charts and graphs.

“This is an analytics tool that helps publishers understand the trends to see what’s circulating, what’s not, and get a sense of future content demand,” Scott Crawford, VP and general manager of collectionHQ, said in a release.

This type of data could potentially help publishers understand how libraries can help build audiences for new authors, or momentum behind titles that don’t come out of the gate as bestsellers.

Some publishers, at least, are already seeking out such data. During the “Libraries: More Important than Ever for Discovery” panel at the 2013 Digital Book World Conference and Expo in January, panelist Skip Dye, VP, library and academic sales for Random House, noted that since hard data on library usage was difficult to capture, he and his staff made regular calls to libraries and checked online holds lists to stay on top of trends.

Buying by the numbers

Now it may be easier to capture data on how libraries influence titles beyond the bestsellers that generate hold lists, particularly as the pool of participating libraries providing data grows: more libraries have been turning to “Evidence Based Selection Planning” provided by collectionHQ, as well as Decision Center, the proprietary collection management solution from Innovative Interfaces Inc. (III) that went into general release in June.

Decision Center is targeted at both public and academic libraries, according to Gene Shimshock, senior VP, product and market management for III. Currently, collectionHQ is focused on the public library market, although in a recent meeting with LJ, Crawford said that the company had been in talks with a major academic library services provider regarding reports for both print materials and ebooks.

“I’m glad to see more of a focus on data-driven decision making. I’d rather see that than assumptions and anecdotes or incomplete data driving decisions. I’m excited to see these tools being put into place,” Emily Clasper, system operations and training manager at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS), a New York consortium, told LJ in an earlier interview. SCLS provided III’s Reporter tool to its 49 member libraries, and subscribers to Reporter were recently upgraded to Decision Center for free.

Similarly, collectionHQ helped streamline acquisition and weeding functions at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) beginning in 2011. “It allows for more oversight of the collection, and it increases the control individual branches have over their collections,” Shellie Cocking, SFPL collections and cataloging manager, said in an earlier interview. “With a large system, we often saw one branch weed a book while another branch was requesting that a copy of the same title be purchased. Our practices of trying to catch these were so time-consuming that financially they were not reasonable to perform.”

The tools themselves are also becoming more tailored to the needs of libraries. For example, collectionHQ in April announced the capability to track ebook collections. Crawford said that the program also includes a discovery module that can recommend content that is highly circulated in other libraries but may be underrepresented in a user’s collection. The company is also working to partner with demographic data providers to give users deeper insight into trends at their library, and is developing a component that would take a library’s shelf space into account when suggesting acquisitions.

“Right from the start I was able to find the circulation data I needed with very little hand-holding,” Laura Girmscheid, research manager for LJ, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book Magazine. “It’s basically click and BAM!, the chart pops up. collectionHQ is still a new product and as such, I find they are eager to learn about and facilitate enhancements. I’m not a huge fan yet, but I see it has great potential down the road.”

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Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

Comments

  1. I’m deeply disturbed that such a positive slant is being placed on a tool that gives for-profit enterprises access to library circulation data, in aggregate or otherwise. I hate to speak in hyperbole, but I find this article shameful.

    • Matt Enis Matt Enis says:

      Thanks for the comment JW. I’m planning more in-depth coverage of privacy vs. tech functionality for next year. I think it’s an important debate to have. Some patrons already share a lot of information about their reading habits on social media sites and goodreads. Amazon tracks its users purchases and suggests readalikes. Many patrons/consumers are OK with this.

      I’m a bit more guarded, and personally, I was a bit surprised at the enthusiasm that many Goodreads users expressed after the acquisition by Amazon http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/413-exciting-news-about-goodreads-we-re-joining-the-amazon-family

      So there’s certainly a point of tension developing here. Can libraries continue to take a hard line on privacy while offering patrons experiences comparable to what they’re seeing on consumer websites and social media? Are people willing to make that tradeoff? Should libraries continue to take that hard line regardless of what their users want? (note, BTW, that Amazon already keeps a record of everything that a patron checks out via OverDrive on a Kindle device. It’s a Kindle thing, not an OverDrive thing, but there’s nothing libraries can do about it if they want to offer Kindle checkouts)

      I would like to emphasize that I am not personally defending any of this. It’s my job to report it.

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